It was a crisp, cold day (-16, -25 with the windchill) and the snow with its hard crust was easy to walk on, so I walked into a thicket of speckled alder looking for a cecropia moth cocoon to photograph, and found one quite soon. The moth that makes this large cocoon (several inches in diameter) is a giant silkworm moth, and is spectacular as both an adult (the size of a hand) and as a caterpillar. The cocoon is made from a papery type silk, and you can see that some leaves have been incorporated into it. Some cocoons are elongate and more slender, but most are like this. It appeared to be torn at the top, and unfortunately, predators will feed on the larva inside. Still, I plan to go back in mid May and see if I can see an adult. The adults have no mouth parts as they don't feed, being born only to breed and then die. Their feeding comes when they are caterpillars. I often see them on alder, and that is no surprise as one of the preferred foods of the caterpillar is alder.
To see the brightly coloured caterpillar that spins this cocoon: http://www.pbase.com/laroseforest/image/144770097